(Beyond the) Pale green Athena

Other people drive inanimate objects on the highways and byways. Cars. Trucks. Motorcycles. I am transported by a pronoun worthy pale-green goddess -- the first vehicle I ever bought myself, without the assistance of a negotiating spouse.

I took her to the body shop and was told she needs a little work on her rear end (hey, it happens). $5000 and three weeks is the estimation, then she should be good as new.

My auto insurance will pay the car rental for thirty days, so I handed over my driver's license to the woman at the customer service desk, who asked if all the information was correct.

"Well, no..." I said, "that's my married name there, which I'm not. And the address was three moves ago."

"Not a problem...except that your driver's license expired in July. I can't rent this car to you."

Well, of course not (to quote an old Steve Martin act, it's all about the timing. Ti-MING).

She told me that their employee Tim would drive me home to get my relevant paperwork (name change, divorce decree), then to the courthouse to get my license. Tim is retired from the Navy, saw combat in Vietnam, and grew up in this area so I got the full tour: the house he grew up in, the creek he fished in, and all the schools in the area. I'm going to suggest to my insurance company that they cover the rental and driver for the next three weeks.



The judge asked, "What do you plead?"

I said, "Insanity, your honour. Who in their right mind would park in the passing lane?"
- Stephen Wright

Same location (near my old house) on the same road (84-E), with the same weather (crappy late afternoon rain storm) as last year when the Bronco flipped over the median. Welcome to my déjà vu.

Not much on my mind, other than hypocrites and puritanical sensibilities, as I cruised along, hoping I wouldn't be too late for my dentist appointment. I played with my sunglass a bit, unable to decide if the clouds looked better darker. Lighter. Darker. Lighter. I noticed the car in front of me stopping suddenly, and quickly pressed down my own brake pedal as hard as I could. The anti-lock brakes worked like a charm as I skipped along the wet pavement, stopping approximately one inch from the car in front of me. PHEW!

My relief, however, was short-lived, as I glanced in my rear-view mirror and noticed the truck behind me, a Ford Ranger, was not having such an easy, stop-on-a-dime time with her brakes. She collided into my back end, pushing me into the car in front of me. Then again, with a jolt of the car forward and back, as another truck hit HER from behind. Domino Dancing in a six-cylinder.

The officer on a Harley eventually arrived, and we drove under the canopy at the Shell gas station so he wouldn't get wet (think Eric Estrada...plus 80 pounds). No one was hurt, fortunately, so he took the reports, while we joked and laughed and talked about how crazy hydroplaning was. I told them next time I was in a four car pile-up, I wanted to be at the front, in a truck, because my car was the vehicle that sustained the most damage.

What struck me most was that there didn't seem to be any anger or flying accusations. I don't know how the police report will read or fingers will be pointed, or if it really matters, but the woman that hit me apologized profusely. Repeatedly.

I'm from a no-fault insurance state (Michigan) so it's relatively simple: my insurance pays my damage, yours pays for you. Here? I'm not exactly sure how it works, and it all seemed to be rather hush-hush when I talked to my insurance agent on the phone, "Oh, I can't legally tell you who will pay the deductible, or if it falls under the collision portion of the policy."

This was the first accident I've had in over twenty years, so now I feel like I'm in a fancy restraurant with lots of people, waiting to see who picks up the bill.


7% solution

Two facts about my father:
1. He rarely (as in never) goes to the doctor. Once when I was seven, during a family meeting with his 10 siblings, he turned grey and blood started squirting out of his nose from his high blood pressure. And then? I'm not sure he did more than grab a towel and tilt his head back.

2. He doesn't buy new vehicles, preferring instead to trade used trucks with his brothers when they're drinking. He did buy a Chevy Citation in 1980 that had no air conditioning, power steering, or brakes (well, it might have had brakes, but he taught me how to drive with it, and I'm quite sure I never used them).

If it's possible to have a complete personality overhaul at age 60, he has.

He recently told me he was having surgery on his neck because of a nonspecific lump that didn't cause any pain. I expressed surprise, asking if he thought of getting a second opinion. "I did. The second doctor said, 'sure enough, you have a lump on your neck. That'll be $100.' He is also taking medication for his high blood pressure and has been to the dentist twice this month.

A chronic, lifetime procrastinator, he finished several courses he needed to continue teaching - and the deadline isn't until NEXT SUMMER! He's also put up a few entries in his blog, which is a few more than ever before.

He bought a new fully loaded SUV. A bit too much for him, with it's fancy features and leather interior, but he went a little more upscale for his wife.

When I asked him if he discovered a new vitamin, he told me that he estimated marriage has made him 7% more productive because now there is a witness whenever he feels like slacking. It's quite obvious by the piles of clothes, books stuffed in every crevice and assorted mounds of potting soil that I haven't had a witness in years.


Job's kittens

[top to bottom: Addison, Chase, Bowie]

When it comes to kittens, don't ever say, "What next?!" (or "No, I coudln't possibly take another", for that matter).

It turns out Addison, one-eyed Bowie's "sister", is technically a male. When I noticed his eye getting cloudy, as in a creepy episode of X-Files, I took him to the vet, who informed me that he has a juvenile cataract and is most probably blind in his left eye. There is no link between his cataract and Bowie's corneal ulcer - different mechanism, same result - although at least he'll get to keep the visionless eye.

Over the past six weeks, I've sent three of my veterinarian's children to college with the following kitten maladies: ulcerated cornea, eyeball enucleation (removal) , staph infection, ringworm, fleas, worms, juvenile cataract, and assorted vaccinations.

My cousin used to tell me that she wasn't going to the casino in the future - she would just slow down when she drove by and throw money out the window. I suppose it would be littering if I threw pieces of plastic credit cards at Westgate Animal Hospital while cruising past.